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Mc week 3

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather (heatheramana) | 12 comments Mod
Now that you are three weeks into your multicultural novel you are able to assess what makes this book unique to a particular cultural perspective. Name 2 major things that either surprised, shocked, or enlightened you. Be sure to include specifics. Has this novel altered your perceptions of the culture? Why or why not?


message 2: by Jhana (new)

Jhana | 5 comments In "They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky" two things that I have noticed is that men in Sudan had many wives and they also had some traditions to uphold. One of the traditions was that "...If you started eating without the others when you got married your kids would have a split lip like an elephant"(15). So everyone would eat at the same time as everyone else. These two things kind of shocked me because you would never really think about things like this. There are some many other differences between Sudan and America that make Sudan seem like a weird place and vise versa but it just seemed something really interesting to me personally.


message 3: by 06maxwellp (new)

06maxwellp | 9 comments In "The Master and Margarita" the two things I noticed was how adversely people viewed religion, and how that affects how they perceive supernatural events. When Satan lets say rips a mans head off but the disembodied head still speaks, everyone is scared nearly to death, but still perceived it as part of the magic show Satan was putting on. When Satan talks to people about religion, they are always adamant about the nonexistence of god or the devil. Because America is a nation full of religion, it was interesting to see a nation that was so unified in it's disbelief of god and Satan.


message 4: by 06kellyk (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:44PM) (new)

06kellyk | 29 comments Two major things that are surprising or shocking to me in Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns include female roles in a Muslim society. Babi, the father of Laila (a main character), mentions that in some Middle Eastern regions, "men saw it as an insult to their centuries-old tradition... to be told by the government their daughters had to leave home, attend school, and work alongside men" (Hosseini 136). This is shocking because of the fact that women have held higher status in Islamic societies in the past compared to other groups. Also, the fact that girls in the novel are forced to marry, as Muhammad himself had been asked by his wife to become wed to her, is quite surprising. Mariam (another main character) , however, does not have a choice in who she has to marry. Afsoon, one of Mariam's father's wives, says, "Your father has already given Rasheed his answer (when asking for Mariam's hand)" (Hosseini 49). Mariam did not have any input in who she wanted to marry, greatly contrasting with old historical happenings. This novel has altered my perceptions of the culture, because I now realize (unlike before) what Afghanistan has been like for women. Due to my knowledge of Muslim history, it comes as a shock to me that women's rights have altered so much, making it difficult to grasp an overall picture of how women have been treated in Afghanistan, as well as the entire culture.


message 5: by 06kellyk (new)

06kellyk | 29 comments Jhana wrote: "In "They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky" two things that I have noticed is that men in Sudan had many wives and they also had some traditions to uphold. One of the traditions was that "...If you st..."

Jhana, I find your input quite interesting. It is fascinating to see how much foreign cultures contrast with ours, and learn about how neat they are. Afghan culture in my book is also very different from American culture, so I can understand that you feel surprised by your book.


message 6: by Josh (new)

Josh Olsen | 20 comments When I read Dave Eggers’s What is the What, two things that stood out for me greatly were Valentino being robbed and Valentino’s walk from Sudan to Ethiopia. This first thing that struck me was when Valentino was robbed. The book immediately started out with this and left a lasting impact in my mind. It was very startling when Valentino thought, “I do know, now, I am being robbed, and that I want to be elsewhere”(Eggers 4). This made me very interested in the book and conveyed the message that Valentino’s story would be full hardships. This scene wasn’t only surprising, but set the tone for the book and showed the contrast of his new life and of his old life. Another scene that I found significant was Valentino’s walk from Sudan to Ethiopia. In this scene Valentino experienced many life-threatening situations such as disease, war and nature. In the scene Valentino recalls, “We left Marial Bai a few days later” (Eggers 77) which was very impactful because it showed how quickly Valentino had to leave his old life behind. This was a turning point I Valentino’s life and very important part of the book. This book has shown me that just coming to the United States doesn’t solve all of your problems. There will be hardship sand difficulties even when you are in a more stable and civilized country. Adjusting to new cultures will always be difficult and will present many challenges.


message 7: by Hali (new)

Hali  Campbell | 21 comments As I've been reading "Americanah", most of the book has been coming as a surprise to me. The foods they mention, the songs they reference, the movies and television shows... They are all rooted in Nigeria, a place I can only dream inaccurately of without help from this novel. I have listened to some of the songs mentioned in the book on Spotify and I look up the large fancy words that the well-educated Nigerians use, and it has helped me understand better, but reading this book is anything but simple, anything but familiar. They reference the amount of upkeep their hair requires, a subject that I admittedly (ashamedly) know hardly anything about. The main character, Ifemelu, is told by her aunt that before she moves from Nigeria to America, she should, "Make small-small braids that will last long, it's very expensive to make hair here" (122). It is mentioned multiple times in the book, and although the book jumps from past to present, in the present, Ifemelu is actually getting her hair done at an African Hair Braiding shop. It seems as if it's a large part of who they are, and I have a feeling the author mentions it so much because she is aware of how many Americans don't know much about it and are ignorant to the importance of it. Another thing that is mentioned quite frequently is the morality of the Nigerian people versus Americans. Whether it is rooted in some of the characters' Catholic-based religion or not, the main character notes how many of her relatives from Nigeria are outraged at the immorality of the Americans, or even Nigerians who move to America and lose their way of life, or culture. While some Nigerians pride themselves in their knowledge of American literature/education or dream of an exotic place with more color and life, most of them are sticklers for their native culture and they believe "this [America] country has no moral compass" (143). I respect the author greatly for how she shows not only how much Americans judge the foreign Nigerians in their country, but also how the Nigerians are judging America as well.


message 8: by Hali (new)

Hali  Campbell | 21 comments 06maxwellp wrote: "In "The Master and Margarita" the two things I noticed was how adversely people viewed religion, and how that affects how they perceive supernatural events. When Satan lets say rips a mans head off..."
The way you speak of your book intrigues me, because the topic of religion vs. belief in nothing has always interested me... Thanks for the insight/preview you have given me on this book. It makes me definitely want to read it someday.


message 9: by Erin (new)

Erin Rochfort | 15 comments As I was reading "Americanah" I was surprised at how many Nigerians glorified America just from the stories they heard. Most wanted to live in America, and those that did, including Ifemelu, found out that life in America is not as easy as they thought it would be. Ifemelu says, "I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America"(359). Ifemelu explains all the difficulties of being "black" in America, which was both insightful and enlightening. Similarly, another thing that I learned was that some Nigerians wanted to be anywhere but Nigeria no matter the cost. Obinze, when being deported from the U.K., came across people that "would plan and come back and do it over again because they had nothing to lose"(347). This was interesting to me because it taught me that some people wanted to get away from their homeland even if that meant taking the risk of being deported over and over again.


message 10: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 30 comments Throughout The Namesake, it has become very clear that this book has a very unique cultural identity. The first cultural shock I experienced was within the first page when"...Ashima Ganguli stands in the kitchen of a Central Square apartment, combining Rice Krispies and Planters peanuts and chopped red onion in a bowl. She adds salt, lemon juice, thin slices of green chili pepper, wishing there were mustard oil to pour into the mix"(1). While this food combination had seemed very strange to me, it was a complete regulatory thing for her. Another shocking cultural identity of this book is the role of names. When their baby is born, Ashima and Ashoke both know "names can wait. In India parents take their time. It wasn't unusual for for years to pass before the right name, the best possible name, was determined"(25). This idea is one I would never imagine as it is so different from how are society is. It is clear how the unique cultural identity of India, compared to their new American identity. This makes the book not only very unique, but also very interesting. So far this novel has helped me better understand indian culture and the difficulties of being a first generation family.


message 11: by 06kellyk (new)

06kellyk | 29 comments 06maxwellp wrote: "In "The Master and Margarita" the two things I noticed was how adversely people viewed religion, and how that affects how they perceive supernatural events. When Satan lets say rips a mans head off..."

Max, your novel seems to greatly contrast with mine. Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Sun takes place in a society dominated by Islam. It is interesting to see contrasting cultures and realize how much of (or little of) an impact religion has on societies.


message 12: by 06kellyk (new)

06kellyk | 29 comments Sydney wrote: "Throughout The Namesake, it has become very clear that this book has a very unique cultural identity. The first cultural shock I experienced was within the first page when"...Ashima Ganguli stands ..."

Sydney, Afghan and Indian culture both seem to have differences from American culture. Similar to how the character in The Namesake casually makes what we consider to be an exotic concoction, the characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns regularly enjoy foods that Americans would generally consider to be gourmet or delicacies. Also, in Afghan culture, names for children usually are decided early on, similar to American culture.


message 13: by 06neilm (new)

06neilm | 6 comments "The Namesake", depicts the striking differences in Indian and American cultures, providing a unique cultural perspective. To me, the first surprising quote the book was on page twenty-seven. "'You are still young. Free.,' he said, spreading his hands apart for emphasis. 'Do yourself a favor. Before it's too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blackout and see as much of the world you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late." (Gosh 16). Here, Gosh tries to convey the gravity of visiting the world while you can. A proposition that is rarely ever mentioned in America. But the second literary shock was Ashoke's response to this assertion. "'My grandfather always says that's what books are for' Ashoke said, using the opportunity to open the volume in his hands 'To travel without moving an inch'" (Ashoke 16). This quote provided insight to the rather stagnate life Ashoke has in front of him. Unlike most American adults, his life will always be centered around his family; living in the same house in his whole life. Furthermore, this allows you to compare Indian and American cultures, and the striking differences between them. Overall, "The Namesake" has been a enthralling novel that has provided more insight on Indian culture than I would have ever imagined.


message 14: by Alex (new)

Alex Mertens | 5 comments In the book What is the What by Dave Eggers, There have really been only a few things that really stuck out in the book as surprising, shocking or enlightening. For me, the biggest asset of the book that stood out as being shocking was the journey taken by these little kids themselves. They are little kids, most of them younger than us 15 or 16 year olds, taking this incredible and extremely dangerous journey from Sudan to Ethiopia. The walk they take is an extremely long distance, one that took them months to complete. Not only is it an incredibly long distance, it is also quite dangerous. Along the journey, kids were getting picked off one by one from lions, the army, disease, starvation, exhaustion, and dehydration. Most kids nowadays won't even think about taking this adventure so this just shows the incredible courage of the kids. Another thing that i found surprising was Achak's friendship towards his friend William K. Achak and William K were friends since the beginning, but they were split when crisis struck. I found it very surprising how their friendship still brought them together. After crossing the Nile River, Achak and William K still somehow met up. Achak and William K worked very well together on the walk and they are what kept each other going. Even after William K had died, it was William's spirit that kept Achak going on his journey to Ethiopia. So far this novel has shown me how lucky we are here in america and that we should really value our friendship. This novel has definitely altered my view of the African Culture.


message 15: by Luis-fernando (new)

Luis-fernando Lopez | 6 comments Although this story gives a strong overview of village life, war, politics and society in Afghanistan, culture is one of the topics that stands out the most to me. The stories of Miriam and Laila, accounting the suffering of women at the hands of ignorance, power and control. It’s the cultural acceptance that allows for the poor treatment of women based on the grounds of patriarchy that is so disheartening.
Marium, a female character of the story quotes "Women like us. We endure. It’s all we have." Women have been suffering all through the ages in some form or another. This makes Miriam and Laila’s story a huge matter becayse the fact that it is still occurring today with amazing regularity should make us all stand up and take notice.


message 16: by Vianna (new)

Vianna | 16 comments Hali wrote: "As I've been reading "Americanah", most of the book has been coming as a surprise to me. The foods they mention, the songs they reference, the movies and television shows... They are all rooted in ..."

It is interesting to see your take on this novel; I agree that topics such as Nigerian hair surprised me. I like how you mention the fancy words that the well-educated Nigerians used. Nowadays, when people think of "Nigeria", they think of poor and non-educated. The novel Americanah has helped enlighten us as well as correct the one-sided story that people have come to believe.


message 17: by Vianna (new)

Vianna | 16 comments While reading Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie, I was enlightened on the viewpoint of American and Non-American Blacks. Throughout the novel, Ifemelu writes several blog posts from her perspective as a Non-American Black on the topic of race. One that particularly surprised me was her post called "Traveling While Black". Ifemelu writes about her rich American Black friend who decides to travel around the world to compare racism. Her friend says "In the German Black Forest, it's pretty hostile staring. In Tokyo and Istanbul, everyone was cool and indifferent. In Shanghai, the staring was intense, in Delhi it was nasty" (Adichie 410). The friend's account of his travels showed me that the intensity of prejudice towards black people varied in certain areas of the world. Today, prejudice still lingers, in some areas more than others. Another major thing that I found surprising was the subject of Nigerian hair. In order to keep her job, Ifemelu had to make her hair look presentable. By presentable, I mean "presentable" by the whites' point of view. Many African women had to use chemicals in their hair and use relaxers in order for it to look straight and "pretty" by the white American standard. These women were forced to change their appearance in order to keep their job and support their family. Overall, this novel has changed my perspective on Nigerian culture. It has showed me what life was like in Nigeria, how life for Africans was impacted in America, and the struggles of racial discrimination.


message 18: by Vianna (new)

Vianna | 16 comments Sydney wrote: "Throughout The Namesake, it has become very clear that this book has a very unique cultural identity. The first cultural shock I experienced was within the first page when"...Ashima Ganguli stands ..."

Sydney, I love the quote that you used to compare the cultural differences between their culture and American culture. The contrast of culture seems to be strongly implemented in The Namesake. In Americanah, Adichie focuses more on how Nigerian culture was being suppressed due to the American society's standards in behavior and appearance.


message 19: by 06kellyk (new)

06kellyk | 29 comments Luis-fernando wrote: "Although this story gives a strong overview of village life, war, politics and society in Afghanistan, culture is one of the topics that stands out the most to me. The stories of Miriam and Laila, ..."

Luis, your input really seems to reflect a major aspect of the book--the general patriarchal nature of the society. There is definitely strong male dominance, which differs from the United States, where gender equality is greater in general. It is interesting to see how the female characters endure and cope with harsh treatment. Good job!


message 20: by Julia (new)

Julia Fish | 34 comments "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri has held an abundance of Indian culture within it.I have found it interesting to see Ashima grow as a person throughout the novel and watch as she adopts to American customs. Her personality in the beginning of the novel was very unopened to the idea of raising an Indian family in America. "I'm saying I don't want to raise Gogol alone in this country. It's not right. I want to go back"(33). From where we currently are in the novel, Ashima has made a character development.Along with that, I was definitely shocked at the aspect of Indian culture when it comes to choosing the names for their children. Parents seem to take their time and not worry about assigning a name too soon. In America, children are given names the day they are born. It was interesting to me to see how different these two cultures are, even if it's regarding something like the fact that "names can wait. In India parents take their time. It wasn't unusual for for years to pass before the right name, the best possible name, was determined"(25). In general, The Namesake hasn't really had an impact upon my view of Indian culture because I didn't know much about it to begin with. I'm very glad we chose this book because I have been exposed to a completely different culture than what I'm used to seeing and experiencing.


message 21: by Julia (new)

Julia Fish | 34 comments Sydney wrote: "Throughout The Namesake, it has become very clear that this book has a very unique cultural identity. The first cultural shock I experienced was within the first page when"...Ashima Ganguli stands ..."

I know it's late but I didn't see the prompt up until now! Sydney, I think your opinion of the way Ashima acts in America is very similar to mine. It's so beautifully written, good job! :)


message 22: by Rishabh (new)

Rishabh | 3 comments The Namesake has been established to be a very culturally unique book. It exemplifies the ideals of Indian culture translated in an American context, and this really brings out the contrast between these two cultures and lifestyles. One thing that surprised me was the amount of resistance that Gogol, or Nikhil shows his parents. I never would nor will have that much resentment against them. I respect my parents, and although I disagree with them on some points, I would never change my indian identity because of them; rather I appreciate and embrace my unique cultural identity because of them. For instance, I too have a 'unique' name (like Gogol), but I wouldn't even consider changing it, unless my life depended on it. Another thing that intrigued me was the emphasis placed upon making the child's name. For instance, Ashima Ganguli says "It wasn't unusual for for years to pass before the right name, the best possible name, was determined"(25). This is not a tradition followed in my parent's version of Indian culture, and it really made me think about the power of a name, and the role it plays in many parts of the world.


message 23: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 20 comments The Namesake is clearly a culturally unique book. Its an interesting contrast between the two very different cultures of India and America. The first thing that surprised me was the naming process of Indian culture and how in Indian culture you get a pet name and a real name later on in the child's life as explained by Ashima when she says, "It wasn't unusual for for years to pass before the right name, the best possible name, was determined"(25). I found this really shocking or unusual because its pretty much the opposite of American tradition which is to name the child the day they are born and that is the name they will have for the rest of their life. The second cultural shock i found was when the author describes, "...Ashima Ganguli stands in the kitchen of a Central Square apartment, combining Rice Krispies and Planters peanuts and chopped red onion in a bowl. She adds salt, lemon juice, thin slices of green chili pepper, wishing there were mustard oil to pour into the mix"(1). This is very different from the food in America. I personally found it to be an odd combination, but apparently in Indian culture its totally normally to mix these foods. This book hasn't necessarily changed my views of Indian culture considering that I didn't have much previous knowledge of it, however, it has giving me new and interesting insight into Indian culture. Overall, i find this book really interesting since it gives me a view of a culture that is new to me.


message 24: by Nathan (new)

Nathan | 11 comments Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky Painted a different view of 19th century Russia than what I had previously expected. One aspect of Russian society that I was shocked at was the status of women, especially women in poverty. In the story, a poor female teenager named Sonya is forced into prostitution by her mother: "She [Sonya] took the yellow card [prostitution] because my children were dying of hunger" (Dostoevsky 430). This prostitution not only shows the hardship of women in 19th century Russia, but is also exemplifies women carrying the burden of the family, being forced to sell their bodies for money to pay for their families' food. Another poor girl named Dunya is shown marrying a wealthy man in order to bring money and fortune into their household: "She [Dunya] won't sell herself for the sake of her own comfort... but she'll do it for someone else!" (Dostoevsky 90). Poor women like Dunya were not only selfless, but they also provided wealth for their family through marriage.

Another aspect of 19th century Russia that was surprising to me was the heavy drinking of tea in Russia. In many parts of Crime and Punishment, many characters drink tea extensively: tea seems like a integral part of Russian cuisine. It is only when the characters are ill that they do not want to drink tea: "He was lying as he had been earlier. The tea stood untouched" (Dostoevsky 100). The tea being absent only when a character is ill shows the prevalence of tea in Russia.

After reading Crime and Punishment, my view of 19th century Russia has been altered. Before, I thought that most Russians drank vodka everywhere to ease away their pain of poverty and hunger; now, I realize that drinking is mostly done in drinking dens, and that many Russians do not drink vodka. I also learned that tea was the drink of choice in Russia, as opposed to vodka.


message 25: by Josh (new)

Josh Olsen | 20 comments Alex wrote: "For me, the biggest asset of the book that stood out as being shocking was the journey taken by these little kids themselves."
Alex, this was a shocking moment in the book for me too. I was amazed how these kids made the long dangerous trek from Sudan to Ethiopia. This passage made me think about how I would've reacted in this situation and made me picture what the kids were going through. It was a moving and shocking passage in Valentino's story.


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